Trace metals readily accumulated by stream periphyton may enter aquatic food chains through grazer ingestion. Hence, experiments were conducted to determine the ecotoxicological responses of the grazing mayfly Baetis tricaudatus to dietary cadmium. Short‐term feeding experiments indicated that B. tricaudatus nymphs did not initially avoid grazing on cadmium‐contaminated diatom mats. During a partial life‐cycle experiment, 4 and 10 μg/g of dietary cadmium significantly inhibited grazing, whereas 10 μg/g significantly inhibited growth. Feeding inhibition was the likely mechanism that inhibited growth (i.e., through reduced energy intake). Conversely, when exposed to waterborne cadmium using lethal toxicity test procedures, B. tricaudatus nymphs were relatively tolerant (96‐h median lethal concentration, 1,611 μg/L). Thus, sublethal responses to dietary exposure appeared to be more sensitive than lethal responses to waterborne exposure. Because adult mayfly fecundity is a function of nymph size at emergence, dietary cadmium exposure could increase the extinction probability within mayfly populations. The present study highlights the importance of dietary exposure routes in determining the ecotoxicological responses of an organism to a contaminant. Furthermore, the findings emphasize the advantage of evaluating a combination of ecologically relevant, lethal and sublethal endpoints in laboratory methods used to generate data for ecological risk assessment and regulation.
Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry – Wiley
Published: May 1, 2003
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